TEAM PREVIEW: Stevenage – Efe Sodje still keeps up with his first side

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Last season was just a step too far for Stevenage, play-off disappointed ended in a managerial change with a surprise new man at the helm. Former Manchester United striker Teddy Sheringham is now in charge and will be looking to take Stevenage one step further than they managed in May. It’s open to opinion on how the former striker will fare in his first managerial job.

Last Season: League Two (6th)

Manager: Teddy Sheringham

 

Squad

GKs: Chris Day
DFs: Dean Wells, Jerome Okimo, Ronnie Henry, Ryan Johnson, Mark Hughes, Fraser Franks
MFs: Chris Whelpdale, Tom Pett, David McAllister, Rohdell Gordon, Dean Parrett, Charlie Lee, Tom Conlon, Steven Schumacher
FWs: Adam Marriott, Ben Kennedy, Brett Williams

 

Transfers

In: Mark Hughes (Morecambe), Steven Schumacher (Fleetwood Town), Brett Williams (Aldershot Town), Fraser Franks (Luton Town)

Out: Jon Ashton (Crawley Town), Chris Beardsley (Mansfield Town), Sam Beasant (Cambridge United), Andrew Bond (Released), Darius Charles (Burton Albion), Roarie Deacon (Crawley Town), Bira Dembele (Barnet), Joseph N’Guessan (QPR), Fejiri Okenabirhie (Released), Michael Richens (Released), Simon Walton (Crawley Town), Harry Worley (Hartlepool United), Calvin Zola (Released)

 

First Six: Notts County (H), Newport County (A), Leyton Orient (A), Hartlepool United (H), Dagenham & Redbridge (H), Plymouth Argyle (A)

Likely Lineup: (4-5-1) Day – Franks, Wells, Hughes, Okimo – Whelpdale, Pett, Schumacher, Parrett, Lee – Williams

 

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A word from…Efe Sodje

On his time at the club I enjoyed it, it was good to me. I was at Wimbledon having a trial and it didn’t work out, Terry Burton was there at the time and a deal never happened and then I was asked to go to Luton for a trial and eventually ended up at Stevenage, I had a great relationship with the club.

We were denied promotion because of the ground, they wanted us to add some more seats but when we got our promotion they said we couldn’t go up and it was like ‘wow’, we had players like Barry Hayles, we had a good team and a good squad but we weren’t allowed to go up.

To be fair I didn’t have a clue what was going on, I was enjoying my football and the team we’re doing great and to be told we couldn’t go up because of the ground was difficult.

On scoring from the back Yeah, I don’t really talk about it that much, it was just something that started to happen. But sometimes you have to talk about it, I scored the first ever league goal for Macclesfield Town when I went there and that was great.

Growing up as a player you always know your strengths and your weaknesses so I’d train more on my strengths. I knew I was strong and I knew I was good in the air so I could challenge anybody when it came to jumping up in the air. Thanks to lot I scored a lot of goals, it just came to me. I knew I had that advantage with my height and my strength and I started to get the goals.

On difference in quality There was a big gap at that time between the Conference and League Two, now it’s not such a big gap but back then it was huge.

Most of the players we had at Stevenage went onto play in the football league or even the Premier League, people like Barry Hayles went to the top level and a lot of others went very close.

On playing for his country I never thought it would happen that quick but I was always convinced I’d play at a World Cup for my country.

One of my first agents was Phil Smith, I remember I spoke to him and he asked me what I wanted and I said I wanted to play at the highest level, to play for my country at the World Cup and that was when I was at Stevenage. But I proved it and I achieved it.

On the current team Teddy Sheringham has a big reputation, he’s played at the highest level and he’s come through on the backroom staff at West Ham.

He’s had a great career and whilst the best players don’t always make the best managers, he’ll get plenty of backing and we’ll see how it goes! I follow every single one of the clubs I’ve played for so I’ll be watching out for how Stevenage do.

On a football family We grew up in a small village in Nigeria, it must be in the genes! I’ve got a brother who played rugby league and obviously brothers who played football over here too.

 

The Offside Rule Podcast Prediction: Sheringham’s start to life at Stevenage will give a good idea as to how Stevenage will fare this season. Signings have been solid and even though plenty of players have gone out, there is plenty of time for more recruitment. With the squad currently a little thin, it would be a great achievement to make the play-offs again.

Key Player: Dean Wells – The defender’s story is fascinating, 12 months in prison followed by spells in the non-league alongside a part-time job as a school caretaker. Stevenage gave him a second chance in the football league and Wells went onto make 42 appearance and was joint awarded the club’s player of the year. He has truly turned his career around.

One to Watch: Brett Williams – The 27-year-old isn’t exactly short on experience and after a great spell with Aldershot in the non-leagues, Williams has returned to league football full of confidence and ready to continue his scoring form with Stevenage.

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